Friday, January 31, 2020


twenty worn-out bar stools 

six wobbly pedestals

along the latticed window 

three out of five arcade games broken

one decrepit pool table

twelve drunks

but it’s only Jimmy who’s learned

to call his shots right: 

“I’m gonna miss.”

Dan O’Connell is a four-time award winning poet, and multiple finalist and honorable mention. His poems have appeared over seventy times, including in Mississippi Review, Homestead Review, San Francisco Reader, Parthenon West Review, RavensPerch and Ghost Town Review. A former Philosophy and Rhetoric professor, Dan has his own law practice with a focus on protecting renters and workers. He is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Different Coasts, and Theory of Salvation. Find Dan O. at


Sick of adolescence, legal at last,
you head to the nearest bar, 
waving your ID like a flag. 
Beer...forget it. 
You're from a long line of under-age keg parties. 
You want whiskey and you want it now.

Three glasses later
and you're slurring speech,
acting crazy,
feeling adult and debauched.
It's better than pot,
better than glue,
now if only your stomach
would agree.

Bar-tender says,
"That's enough."
What's he talking about?
Your watch may be blurry
but time can't retreat.
You're not twenty all of a sudden.
You're twenty-one
and you're staying that way.

One more half-drunk, half spilled
down your shirt,
and two of your drinking buddies
grab you by the shoulders,
stumble you out the door
and then the three blocks to your dorm.

Sick at last,
you crawl to the nearest bathroom, 
head deep in toilet bowl, 
vomit for what seems an age.
Twenty-one by my reckoning.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline,
Hawaii Pacific Review and Clade Song.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

October 27. By Mike Zone

The night we first met
I didn’t exactly know
what drew me to pull away
wanting to touch your beauty
sensing your sweet sadness
fearing you may not have understood
the loneliness revealed
or perhaps I feared
how much you needed me
or how much I needed you
how much we needed each other then
how much we need each other now
oh, baby how far flung out future can be
through the inter-exchange of shadows 
and light
with the beauty
 comes the pain
and the knowing

Mike Zone is the author of A Farewell to Big Ideas, Void Beneath the Skin, Better than the Movie: 4 Screenplays and Fellow Passengers: Public Transit Poetry, Meditations and Musings. A contributing poet to Mad Swirl and contributing writer to the graphic novel series American Anti-hero by Alien Buddha Press. His poetry and stories have appeared in: Horror Sleaze Trash, The Daily Dope Fiend, Outlaw Poetry, The Rye Whiskey Review, Synchronized Chaos and Triadæ Magazine.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

now the war begins by J.J. Campbell

i drink to quiet the
demons inside of me

my liver is failing me

so now the war begins

there will be plenty of
dead on the battlefield

none of us are meant
to be a pretty corpse

and may my final glass
be the strongest shit you
have behind the bar

J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves and is currently trapped in suburbia. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Record Magazine, Misfit Magazine, The Beatnik Cowboy, Mad Swirl and Synchronized Chaos. His latest chapbook, the taste of blood on christmas morning, was published by Analog Submission Press in July 2018. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Which One Doesn't Belong? by Hugh Blanton

For Angie

Remember the child's game?
'One of these things is not like the other...'
You are to choose the single object
among the many objects
that does not belong.

It supposedly helps develop a tot's intelligence.

At the bar there is one woman apart from the crowd -
out on the back patio - drinking alone -
smoke curlicuing from the cigarette in one hand -
her pencil twirling between two fingers of the other.

There's a backpack on the stool beside her
to ward off chatty drunks.
It contains a book of Bukowski poems.

There's a drawing pad in front of her -
filling quickly with lines and shapes
as the drunken day rages on around her.

In that grid of superficiality - loudness -
stupidity - narcissism -
someone inserted something
that doesn't belong.

Hugh Blanton is a truck loader who combs poems out of his hair during those times he can steal away from his employer's loading dock. He has appeared in Bottom Shelf Whiskey, The Dope Fiend Daily, Terror House Magazine and other places.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Why I Dream in Red. By Susan Tepper

Time for choice is over
when the sweep of Iris 
droop in the field 
a brittle winter then
came a drowning spring
the order of 
things letting go—
All day, in and out 
under covers, bottle 
stuck in the crook of 
arm, it’s not 
a matter of suspension, 
the craving Iris
seeking mulch folds inward,
closer to the ground

Susan Tepper is the author of eight published books of fiction and poetry. Her most recent book just out in June is a road novel titled “What Drives Men.” It was shortlisted at American Book Fest Best Book Awards. Other honors and awards include eighteen Pushcart Nominations, a Pulitzer Prize Nomination for the novel “What May Have Been” (Cervena Barva Press, and currently being adapted for the stage), NPR’s Selected Shorts Series, Second Place Winner in Story/South Million Writers Award, Best Story of 17 Years of Vestal Review, Shortlisted 7th in the Zoetrope Novel Contest (2003), Best of the Net and more. Tepper is a native New Yorker.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

BROWN JUG. By Michael N. Thompson

There’s a country singer crooning

on the dusty old juke

He sounds familiar, but not quite

I look over at the shopworn missus

who lets her stringy blonde strands

fall across her face

to cover up lines of regret

from a life that came up short

We make eye contact and nod,

coming to a silent agreement

that this isn’t where either one of us

really wants to be

The years have used her up

worse than a boulevard hooker,

but I’m not in any better shape

I feel like a fraud

pretending I’m not falling apart

We’re two of the stories here

speeding towards an unhappy ending

Even the bartender

in this soul junkyard

recognizes that the Brown Jug

is the devil’s own

Michael N. Thompson likes bacon, cats and fantasy football.  His poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals including Word Riot, Toronto Quarterly and San Pedro River Review. He is the author of four poetry collections. Michael’s newest project is his first novel, Sympathy For The Devil.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Rolled Lobster by Tony Pena

Looking for a lady
to shake my world
like a James Bond
martini in a tiki bar
by the sea only
to get my shoe caught
on a runaway carousel
on the amusement
pier till the EMT
finds me a handful
of drinks past drunk,
naked and fire engine
red in a fetal position
on the beach,
ego and wallet
pilfered as I suck
on a thumb’s
down like feasting
on a mermaid’s
nipple in the sand.

Tony Pena was selected as 2017-2018 Poet Laureate for the city of Beacon, New York.  
A new volume of poetry and flash fiction, "Blood and Beats and Rock n Roll," is available now at Amazon.  He also has a self published chapbook, "Opening night in Gehenna."  His publication credits include “Chronogram,”  "Dogzplot,"   "Gutter Eloquence," “Hudson Valley Transmitter,” "Red Fez," "Slipstream,"  "Underground Voices," "Zygote in my Coffee,"  and others. 

Colorful compositions and caterwauling with a couple of chords can be seen at:

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Nightstand. By Bruce Morton

He stands there still
Framed next to the bed,
Tarnished, chipped gilt,
Where nightmares wept
And sleep sometimes slept.

Echoes sound distant
In the penumbra
Of cheap whiskey
Of family history
Of filial mystery.

The tight-jawed visage
Of grandfatherly sobriety
Glaring, daring memory.
My father, the son
Would carry him drunk,
The body dead weight,
Upstairs to his nightstand
To fend and sleep 
Off his Irish demons, 
Transfigured wholly 
Into the ghost of himself.

There it is, the faith
Of our fathers, who each,
In his own turn, was a son.
Such is the irony of agony--
The tragedy of progeny.                     

And here I am
In the middle of the night
Seeking some dark insight
To gauge their and my rage,
Taking my night stand
Writing a sober poem.

Bruce Morton splits his time between Bozeman, Montana and Buckeye, Arizona. His volume of poems, Simple Arithmetic and Other Artifices, was published in 2015. His poetry has appeared in various anthologies and magazines including Kansas Quarterly, Connecticut Quarterly, Spoon River Quarterly, Pembroke Magazine, North Stone Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, and San Pedro River Review.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Saskatoon, 1981. By John Doyle

If there are woodlands in Saskatoon

I’ll hide there, pretend I'm five years old in 1981
with nameless neighbours taking me on day trips
to towns with names I've forgotten, 
me hiding in the boot
when they stop to buy lemonade and chocolate brands that disappear
like leaves in the woods in Saskatoon that may, or may not exist.
Saskatoon was a place I saw in a geographical reference book in 1981
with photos of Aboriginal elders dancing in traditional costume
that looked like chocolate wrappers and leaves the colour of Mid-morning.
I’ll hide in the woodlands in Saskatoon, 
pretend I'm five years old in 1981
where mice run on roulette wheels and win me prizes in county fairs.
The first cheeseburger I ever bought, thanks to a snow-haired mouse;
it will join me in the woodlands of Saskatoon, 
we'll pray, give praise
like elders do in geographical reference books in 1981.
When they stop suddenly, European settlers looking puzzled
take their cameras out, and make us eternal -
mice, and the all too soon to be men

John Doyle became a Mod again in the summer of 2017 to fight off his impending mid-life crisis; whether this has been a success remains to be seen. He has has two collections published to date, A Stirring at Dusk in 2017, and Songs for Boys Called Wendell Gomez in 2018, both on PSKI's Porch.

He is based in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. All he asks is that you leave your guns at the door and tie up your horses before your enter.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Tequila the First Time by Steve Passey

I ask her to marry me all the time and
she never says yes.
She tells me she wants to get married but
she feels in control of at least one thing
in her life when she says no.

She’s forty-nine years old and
she tells me she’s never tried tequila.
I buy tequila.
She does four shots and
she tells me that she likes it a little,
she likes it a lot, and
maybe next time she can do six,
then she lights up her bong and rips some MK Ultra.
It’s not as good as Northern Lights she tells me,
but it’s still pretty fucking good, and
she can have multiples when she’s high.
She’s taken her clothes off now but
she doesn’t want the lights on.
I tell her no forty-nine-year-old woman
should have an ass like that and
she laughs, and
I think that not many forty-nine-year-old women laugh like that either.
We lie down but she’s up in five minutes to throw up.
Tequila, man. You need to be careful with Tequila.
She comes back and
I didn’t hear her brush her teeth, but whatever, because
she asks if she can suck my cock.
I say nothing but I am thinking about her ass.
I lie on my back and
I am glad I am not too drunk, and
I don’t care that the lights aren’t on but
I would really like to see her in the light.
She does that for a while and
then we make love for a very long time with her on top.
The soles of her feet are warm,
hot even,
against the back of my calves and
I am happy in the darkness with her and
glad I was there the first time that she tried tequila.

                             The End

Steve Passey is originally from Southern Alberta. He is the author of the short-story collections "Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock" (Tortoise Books, 2017), "Cemetery Blackbirds" (Secret History Books, 2019), and many other things. He is a Pushcart and best of the Net Nominee and is part of the Editorial Collective at The Black Dog Review.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

cycles by Leisha Nicole Stanek

when I don’t have anyone to occupy my space
or time, or mind, my bitch grows.
and I swallow her hard between swigs of
granddad and turkey.
the bartender doesn't want to entertain me
and I don’t want to go home. alone.
heat out of nostrils billows as throat closes.
I’ll probably cry.
and I’m pissed because I feel this way;
it’s only been a short while.
but I’m contemplating a 180, so I don’t have
to always rewind into the reasons of decisions
I’ll be blamed to have kept. for too long.

Leisha Nicole Stanek
Midwestern woman wandering, writing, welcoming the shared energy of humans to piece together our purpose. Collector of art, books, tattoos and men between sheets. If whiskey laced coffee were a permissible and actual form of daily hydration; tomorrow it would begin.

Heaving in Heaven. By Gwil James Thomas

Oftentimes as juveniles 
the Patel brothers and I would be 
riding our bikes around 
the neighbourhood and we’d spot 
Duncan, or Drunk Dunc’
as he was colloquially known - 
slouched on a bench, wall, 
or passed out in the park grass.

For a while he was in cahoots 
with Cider Head Sue, 
then one day she’d disappeared 
and people said that Drunk Dunc’
had killed her with a chainsaw 
before selling her flesh
to the local kebab house for wine - 
which of course was utter bollocks. 

Our parents warned us to 
stay away from him and that,
that was what happened to 
a man without a job - 
but at the same time Drunk Dunc’ 
always seemed happier than them,
as he swigged away 
and enthusiastically sang songs 
from bygone years - 
to the point that sometimes 
it was as if Drunk Dunc’ 
was about to heave in heaven - 
but what I didn’t know then 
was that drinking like that rarely came 
without having at least once 
taken a detour through hell.  

Gwil James Thomas is a novelist, poet and inept musician originally from Bristol, England. He is a Best of The Net and Pushcart nominee whose work has appeared in publications such as 3 Poets, 3AM, Mythos Zine, Paper & Ink, Low Light Magazine, Cephalo Press and also here. His two most recent poetry chapbooks are In The Barrel of a Beautiful Wave (Holy & Intoxicated Publications) and Writing Beer, Drinking Poetry (Concrete Meat Press). He is currently laying low somewhere in Northern Spain.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The House on Heck Avenue. By Cord Moreski

Nobody in town seems to remember    
the people who used to live here.   
The chimney has gone through the roof    
and the broken front steps lead    
to a torn screen porch that looks   
like some forgotten burial ground.    
One evening when I was a kid 
I sneaked inside and searched around.  
But all I found was a Bible with a broken spine    
and a bottle of Johnnie Walker    
shattered on the living room floor.   
There the only light    
in the entire house vanished   
into the night through a crack    
of a boarded picture window    
as if it was never going to return again.   
As if hope itself was a constant reminder    
of the one that got away.

Cord Moreski is a poet from New Jersey. His work has been featured in As It Ought To Be Magazine, The Silver Birch Press, The Pangolin Review, Philosophical Idiot, Eunoia Review, The Rusty Truck Press, and several other publications. He is currently working on a new project for late 2020. You can follow Cord here:

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Painfully sober (self-aware) poem By Alex Z. Salinas

Not a single sip these 30 years.
Sprouting white hairs don’t care.
Bitter coffee begs (dregs) daily.
Bad hearts run on both sides.
Gimme grease, salt, women,
Stunning (death) sentences,
Metaphor & cream puff stanzas.
The unwritten speaks, listen—
I’m with you always…always.
Ghosts & rumors do the Dougie.
They make extraordinary friends.
They move into your apartment,
Watch you vacuum every Friday.

Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. His poetry has appeared in the San Antonio Express-News, As It Ought To Be Magazine, The Dope Fiend Daily, Duane's PoeTree, and in the San Antonio Review, where he serves as poetry editor.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Afterdark By Jonel Abellanosa

I could recreate darkness in a lit room,
like screen saver in my closed eyes.

I nicknamed the intravenous opioid
bumblebee, because my desire to fly
left buzzes in my ears, sounds 
making me think of electricity.
Cough syrup would make my body
boneless as the emotion in timelessness. 
I’d taught myself the reflex,
automatic feel of mushroom
from the bed, my skull a habitable
planet. Memory is a gibbous moon,
making me remember decades later
every image, pearls of weightlessness.  
I’m still the sunflower 
without the bumblebee.

Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, the Philippines. He is a nature lover, an environmental advocate, and loves all animals particularly dogs. His poetry collections include, “Meditations” (Alien Buddha Press), “Songs from My Mind’s Tree” and “Multiverse” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House), 50 Acrostic Poems,” (Cyberwit, India), “In the Donald’s Time” (Poetic Justice Books and Art), and his speculative poetry collection, “Pan’s Saxophone” (Weasel Press). He loves to self-study the sciences.

For The Mourner By Alec Solomita

For the mourner only one thing is: things like business, cooking, seeing birds stir the spring air, falling snow, even watching the home tea...